Essay on miscellaneous taxes charged on villages during ancient times


The epigraphs do not provide direct evidence of taxes prevailed during die period of study. But from the references of land grants and their different conditions i.e. royal dues or exemptions from them, to transfer or retention to their donees- the land revenue system can be outlined.

In the inscriptions of Eastern India, we do not find any reference to revenue terms. However, the charters of the Parivrajaks, the Uccakalpas, the Vakatakas and Sarabhapuriyas in the Central India, indicate different important revenue terms such as “Udranga”, “Uparika”, “bhoga-bhaga”, “Kara”, “hiranya”, “dhanya”, “klipta” and “upaklipta”.

In the Gangetic plains we do not find many inscriptions because land or villages were not granted in the core region of the Gupta empire. The two copper plates of Samudragupta indicate to “udranga”, “Uparikara”, and “bhoga-bhoga”.


The “Inscriptions of the Madhuban and “Banskheda” of Harshavardhana have been found in the seventh century A.D. and Banabhatta in “Harshacharita” mentions a number of grants, granted by the emperor “Harshavardhana”.

The “Madhuban” inscription mentions “Udranga”, “Sarvara jakula bhavya”, “pratyaya”, “Smeta”, Samucit tuly maya bhoga-bhoga kara”, “hiranya adi pratyaya”.

The most common revenue term is “bhoga- bhaga” or “bhoga-bhoga” is used, the “bhaga” may be taken as customary share of produce and “bhoga” may be taken as the periodical supplies of fruits, firewood, flowers and the like which the villagers had to supply to the king as stated in the Vakatakas grants.

Besides it is also supported by Manu and his commentators Medhatithi and Kulluka.


“Kara” is seems to have been of the nature of a periodical tax levied more or less universally from the villagers. The “Junagarh Inscription of Rudradaman” indicates that “Kara” was an oppressive tax.

“Hiranya” revenue term is found in all the inscriptions of Northern India. “Hiranya” literally means “gold” but technically, it means King’s share in certain crops which was paid in cash rather than in kind as “bhoga”.

It was levied on the cash crops such as ginger, cotton. Besides these fiscal terms, “Uparikara” and “Udranga” terms were used during 400 A.D. to 700 A.D. with exception of a few. “Uparikara” term is something like the Tamil term. “Melavaram” which was the crown’s share of the produce.

But this view is not certain because the terms “Udranga” and “Uparikara” occur along with the expression of “bhaga-bhoga kara” in the karitalai plate of 493-94 A.D. and the Khohplate 512-13 A.D.


Therefore, “Uparikara can neither be equated with “bhaga” nor with “bhoga”. As the term “upri” means “upon” or “extra” it has been explained as an extra cess or local tax. It is further debatable.

The term “Udranga” with “uparikara” is also difficult to explain. However it is recorded along with other normal royal dues like “uparikara “, “udranga ” also may have been a levy over and above the usual grain share. The term “ditya” literally exempt from all dues, forced labour and making gifts.

It means, “ditya” did not denote any particular tax but many taxes may have been included in it. The term “meya ” also appeared in central and Eastern India, which has been explained as taxes including the share of the produce and cash paid in lieu of the kind in proper time.

It may be a substitute for the general land tax known as “Bhaga”. The term “dhanya” also appears to have denoted the general land tax. “Dhanya” with “bhoga” and “bhaga” is indicated in the Kurud plate of fifth century A.D. It may be said that “dhanya” was also an unspecified tax.

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